Al Gore had a rotten week. Or two. The latest setback to his outsized personal ambition began on June 14, with a devastating piece by New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd. Gore had dropped by the Times’ editorial board for a chat. Question #1 wasn’t exactly a brain teaser: “How do you assess George Bush as a candidate?” they asked.
Gore’s answer droned on for 1,565 words, Dowd noted, “touching on such diverse topics as the human genome, the ice-free future of the Arctic Ocean, the ‘Star Wars’ journey, the climate of New York City, federal entitlements, the climate of Atlanta, embassy security, the climate of Illinois, Individual Development Accounts, the climate of Oklahoma, and the state of the U.S. economy in 1835.”
All that, yet, as Dowd pointed out, “he never did get around to answering.” It was Gore, the insufferable pedant.
In her column, Dowd concluded the following about both Gore and George Bush, and, if it’s possible, her analysis of Gore was the more critical: “One candidate knows a lot but is afraid to offer opinions that will mar his chance to be president. The other doesn’t know a lot, so he just lets his brain trust script opinions that will not mar his chance to be president.”
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Times recently, one found warm and harmless pieces about George Bush’s fraternity years at Yale. Just as other Yalies were embarking on protests about the Vietnam War and civil rights, Bush was becoming a member of Skull & Bones, getting arrested for tearing down a goal post at Princeton, and running for fraternity president. It was just enough personal information, in this mild political climate and in the face of Gore’s painfully serious lifelong ambitions, to inspire a certain warm and fuzzy fondness for Gore’s nemesis.
Meanwhile, things got worse. From out of the bowels of some dark office complex, a federal investigator told Janet Reno that he was recommending a federal prosecutor be appointed to investigate Gore’s campaign fund raising. That information then was leakedinappropriatelyaround the world.
Now, we’re not the kind to visualize green men climbing out of black helicopters. We don’t buy into the notion of a vast right-wing conspiracy at work against the Clinton-Gore administration. This jihad against Gore is no conspiracy. It’s too out-of-the-closet for that. People are playing politics with the law. The same day the investigator announced publicly to Reno that he wanted a special prosecutor, another investigator announced, via a press release no less, that he wouldn’t prosecute Hillary Clinton for Travelgate. Only, the press release didn’t exactly redeem the First Lady. Instead, it said that even though there will be no prosecution, he believes she did wrong.
Since when do prosecutors put out press releases? Since when do they offer opinions about the wrongdoing of public officials? Since when does the law not reside behind closed doors?
One wishes Gore’s other problems might pale by comparison, but they don’t. The man has also lost his top campaign officialand hired a new one. What’s more, by attacking Bush after he wrapped up the nomination, Gore apparently lost some middle ground. And as for the rental house in Carthage, Gore still hasn’t fixed it up.
In our judgment, Al Gore would make a thoughtful president. One wishes he would be an equally thoughtful campaigner.
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